Before addressing students nationwide Tuesday, President Obama fielded questions from a group of ninth graders at the Arlington, Virginia school hosting his speech.
When asked which person, dead or alive, he would choose to have dinner with, President Obama said he would pick Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. He said he is always interested in people who are able to bring about change, not through violence or money, but through the force of their personality, ethics and morals.
The president drew laughter when he joked that his meal with Gandhi would probably be small, because he said Gandhi, who often fasted, "did not eat a lot."
Another student asked Mr. Obama how his life has changed since he became president. Mr. Obama said the biggest change is that he now lives inside a "bubble." He said not being able to interact normally with people is the toughest part of his job.
President Obama also offered advice for those with their own political aspirations. When a student asked for tips on becoming president, Mr. Obama's first suggestion was for students to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Facebook. The president said young people make mistakes and do "stupid stuff" but that in this age, whatever a person does will resurface later.
President Obama spoke candidly to the students about his experiences at their age. The president said he was a "little bit of a goof-off" and that his main goal was to get on the varsity basketball team and have fun. He said he did not get serious about his future until college, when he realized he was never going to be a professional basketball player and started identifying his other strengths.